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New rules for Ecolabel paper products

Producers of graphic paper and tissue paper products must meet new rules on chemicals, if they are to continue bearing the EU Ecolabel.

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New rules come in for Ecolabel paper products

In a bid to make paper products more sustainable, the European Commission has outlined that tissue paper, kitchen roll, toilet and printing paper must be free of chemicals in order to bear the Ecolabel on the products.

A ban is now in place for dyes and pigments made using aluminium, silver, arsenic, barium, cadmium, cobalt, chromium, mercury, manganese, nickel, lead, selenium, antimony, tin or zinc. Lotions used to soften paper must no longer contain parabens, triclosan, formaldehyde, formaldehyde releasers or methylisothiazolinone.

Blanca Morales, an Ecolabel expert for the European Environmental Bureau, said that industry professionals tried to fight the new rules, but voting from Danish, German, Belgian, French and Italian representatives pushed the new rules through.

Firms wanted to continue using fibres that fail to meet Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) standards and we had to fight hard until the day of the vote

She comments: “Firms wanted to continue using fibres that fail to meet Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) standards and we had to fight hard until the day of the vote. They were supported by government representatives for Sweden & Portugal, arguing that not enough certified fibres exist to meet demand. But the FSC says that there is enough, and the problem is a lack of demand from manufacturers.”

The changes are effective from January 11th for producers applying to use the Ecolabel on new products. Producers of paper products which currently have the Ecolabel must adapt their products to comply with the new criteria and they have until the end of the year to do so.

The aim of the criteria is to reduce “discharges of toxic or eutrophic substances into waters and environmental damage or risks related to use the of energy,” as well as safeguarding forests by requiring that recycled and virgin fibres must been sourced sustainably, either through the FSC or the PEFC (Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification).

The EU Ecolabel is a voluntary label that helps to promote environmentally friendly practices within products and services and is backed by EU member states and the European Commission.

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